G7 Summit: President von der Leyen outlines key EU priorities

Ahead of the G7 Summit taking place from 11 to 13 June in Cornwall in the United Kingdom, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen outlined the key priorities and initiatives the EU will present in meetings with leaders of world’s key economies.

The Summit participants are expected to discuss the economic recovery following the COVID-19 crisis, including ways to build back better and create a greener, more prosperous future.

Speaking to the media, President von der Leyen reminded of the EU’s economic response in 2020, and a number of measures of fiscal support taken to remedy the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We enabled the European level to act forcefully and swiftly, at the beginning with SURE and now with NextGenerationEU”, she said, stressing that the crisis also proved the EU has set the right priorities the year before. “Our spending goes into investment for green and digital transition and into resilience. And the plan was there, the roadmap was there and we could immediately act.”

She also put the economic recovery in a global context, and underlined the need for greater economic resilience and respect for democratic values and fundamental rights.

She noted that the G7 would look at the best ways to defend and promote democratic values. “With the return of the United States to a global arena, we are very much looking forward to the G7 backing effective action to strengthen multilateralism. We need effective WTO rules making, including a G7 commitment to help reform the WTO and the entire rules-based system.”

The G7 Summit will also discuss ways of strengthening partnerships with developing countries, through for example connectivity, and investment in infrastructure and people.

Speaking before the Members of the European Parliament earlier this week, President von der Leyen also touched upon concrete initatives EU is putting in place to address urgent needs of some of the poorest countries. “The European Union will commit to a new humanitarian aid package of EUR 250 million to tackle hunger. We want to donate almost EUR 50 million to countries in the Sahel region and in East Africa – regions hit hard by the economic impact of the pandemic and by climate change.”

On the topic of health, von der Leyen spoke of the recent progress made with the European vaccination strategy, as well as the EU’s efforts and funding to help confront the pandemic at global level – from helping to establish ACT-Accelerator and COVAX, to committing EUR 1 billion for developing vaccine manufacturing capacities in Africa.

“Today in Europe, more than 50% of the adult population have received at least one shot. We achieved that whilst never stopping export,” she said. “From the 700 million doses that have been produced in the EU since last December, roughly 350 million doses have been exported to over 90 countries.”

Von der Leyen also outlined EU’s key views on the topic of climate and climate financing. She stressed the EU already spends about half of its development finance on projects that support at the same time development and adaptation to climate change, and called for everyone to put adaptation policies in the centre of our climate policies.

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